Friday, September 12, 2014

Remembering Borlaugh

Last year, India set a new record in wheat production -- 95.85 million tonnes. This took the total food-grain production in the country to 264.38 million tonnes - another record in itself. To put the figures in perspective, consider a simple fact: At the time of independence we produced just 6 million tonnes of wheat.

All this we can trace back to the vision of one man - Norman Borlaugh.

As a young American plant pathologist he went to Mexico in 1944 to help fight hunger. Fifteen years of research in classical, selective breeding led him a dwarf variety of wheat which not only resisted rust, but also had a new plant gene that made them shorter with sturdier stalks which were able to withstand the weight of more abundantly grained wheat ears. His efforts resulted in a six-fold increase in Mexican wheat production.

The Indian government invited Borlaugh in 1966, at a time when the country had been reduced to a basket-case by successive droughts. He came in with a sackful of Mexican  wheat seeds. The rest, as they say, is history -- and the Green Revolution.


* Tribute -
*Gene Revolution - the Antecedents -

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